Two Works of Caravaggio
In jaundiced skin enclosing bitter bile,
And self-deceived by hedonistic lies,
Sick Bacchus, in defiance, tries to smile,
The smirk denied by sad, icteric eyes.
With muscles tense and stiff as prison bars
He crushes all the sweetness he would hold.
That desperate grasp at comfort too is ours
Who, futile in our drudgery, grow old:
If Love is not the Lodestar on our way,
In tilling stony ground and barren soil,
Then anxiously we dread each dawning day
Like Sisyphus, relentless in his toil.
And so we labor, year by weary year,
If all that’s wrought is only wrought in FEAR.
In Ecstasy Saint Francis now reclines,
His soul here pierced by Love’s exquisite pain.
All other joys forever he declines,
Embraced in gentle Beauty’s tender reign.
A deep repose he enters, yet awake,
Surrendering all, but suffering no loss,
As he found rest in laboring for the sake
Of him whose arms were opened on the Cross.
For if in quiet trust we sink the root,
And no more yield to shrill commands of Fear,
The tree beside still waters shall bear fruit
And we shall sing the crowning of the year.
For here’s the key – it moves the stars above –
The only work God works in us is LOVE.
Desmond Alban SSF
Holy Cross Priory, Toronto
14 April, 2018